Sunday, January 15, 2017

What it takes to be church - Spirit-filled

Text for the week:   Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, … even if you say to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea”, it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’ Matthew 21:21-22

Welcome to our services today and a special welcome to any worshipping with us today. During this morning’s service we are going to share in the Lord’s Supper: we invite all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to share with us around the table as once again we do as Jesus asked us to do and remember all that he has done for us.

Can you spot what looks like a mistake that’s actually not a mistake? Think about that for a moment. Through January and February we are drawing on part of the GIFT Course and asking what it takes to be church here at Highbury. We have already looked at the importance of being a Christ-centred church and of being a church that is rooted in the Bible. Today we are going to reflect on the need to be a Spirit-filled church. How good that we do that on the day we share together in the Lord’s Supper. It was as Jesus shared with his disciples on the night of his betrayal and arrest that he recognised that they were going to feel very much alone after all that was to happen in the next few days. It was here, during this meal that he promised that they would have a presence to draw on, a strength from beyond themselves, a comforter, to give them the strength that on their own they would never have.  That strength from beyond themselves, that presence alongside them, that comforter was that Spirit that was the very Holy Spirit of God himself. As we seek to be the body of Christ here in this place we cannot do all that we need to do in our own strength. We too need that strength from beyond ourselves. And we need it not just occasionally … but all the time. It is as we are being constantly filled with the Spirit that we will be equipped with the gifts we need to be the church here in this place. More than that, we will together and individually have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – the very things that are the mark of being the church of Christ here in this place. No, it’s not a mistake. Today’s text for the week may look the same as last week’s, but it is drawn from this week’s readings in Fresh from the Word. Maybe Jesus said much the same thing twice because he wanted us to be aware that with that strength of the Spirit within mountains that seem immoveable can be moved!

Welcome and Call to Worship
207 Come let us worship the Christ of creation
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Seeing Stars!
Reading: Job 38:1-5, 31-3 and 40:3-5
A Hy-Spirit Song
Activities for all over 3
No longer alone

Jesus knew what was going to happen.

It wasn’t just that he wanted to prepare his disciples for it.

It wasn’t just that he wanted to make arrangements that would be straightforward enough for them to carry out.

He wanted to share with them something else that he knew.

It wasn’t something he hoped for.

It wasn’t something conditional on what they did – though Jesus knew exactly how he wanted them to be, how he wanted them to behave.

He wanted to tell them what was going to happen. It was a reassurance. It was what would make all the difference.

It was the night on which he was betrayed. He gathered his close circle of friends together in that Upper Room in Jerusalem knowing full well what was in store.

They gathered around the table to share one last Supper – it was the festival of Passover and so it was special.

They were about to eat when Jesus took a bowl of water and began to wash the feet of his disciples – that’s how he wanted them to be as well – people always willing to serve, people always willing to serve in love.

He took his place at the table and he shared thoughts. It was the last conversation he had with them.

And in John’s gospel the words are recorded at length.

He prayed a prayer with them – and John records that prayer – a most wonderful prayer.

He took bread, he gave thanks, he broke it and he shared it.

He took the cup also and he shared it

This was it – a body broken for them, blood shed for them – sealing a new relationship – a partnership with each other – a partnership with Jesus – a partnership with God – a new covenant.

It was all so special.

He knew what was in store.

And he knew it was not the end of that wonderful partnership – but the beginning of something remarkable, something wonderfully special, something for eternity.

He shared two things with them.

The first was love.

It’s the way he has mapped out.

It’s the way he has lived out.

It’s the way that has brought them together as friends, friends with each other, friends with God and friends towards everyone.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

It’s what he said once had washed their feet and given them that example. It’s what he came back to time and again in the words he sahred at that last supper.

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.

It’s a wonderfully simple thing to say.

It’s a massively difficult thing to do.

Just as I have loved you
You also should love one another.

And then Jesus said something else. And this too was something he repeated not once not twice but four times – as if to press the point home.

‘If you love me,
you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate,
to be with you for ever.
This is the Spirit of truth,

This is the most wonderful thing about the faith that we share.

If you love me – love Jesus and then you will keep my commandments.

And then something follows.

I will ask the Father … and he will give you another …

Now that’s what Jesus says is wonderfully powerful. But difficult to grasp the full meaning of what he intends.

When Jerome translated the Greek of John’s gospel into Latin he just used the same word – he couldn’t translate it. Paraclete. Some English translations use that very word. The Good News Bible – translates the word as ‘Helper’. The NRSV as Advocate. The NIV as Counsellor – all sorts of different ways of translating the word.

But it’s a powerful word. It’s one of the most important words in the New Testament.

I looked it up in Barbara Friberg and Timothy Friberg and Neva Miller’s Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament – it’s a recent dictionary of the Greek of the New Testament.

a verbal adjective with a basic meaning one called alongside to help; (1) as a legal technical term, as one who appears in another's behalf advocate, defender, intercessor (1J 2.1); (2) as one who gives protection, help, and security helper, comforter, counselor (JN 14.16)

William Tyndale came up with the English word ‘comforter’. That comes from com – with alongside – and fort from fortification – a real strength and fortification alongside us for always.

If you love Jesus you will keep his commandments.

But in doing it you are not alone.

There is one who is with you – how constantly is called alongside you to help – he is an advocate who will speak up for you in God’s presence, he is a defender who will stick up for you, an intercessor who will pray with you and for you. He is one who gives protection, help and security – a helper, a comforter, a counsellor.

He is that strength from beyond ourselves we need to get by from one day to the next.

This is the Spirit of truth.

I will not leave you orphaned;

I will not leave you all on your own with no one to help, with no source of support.

I will not leave you orphaned.
I am coming to you. 

In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 
On that day
you will know that I am in my Father,
and you in me,
and I in you. 

They who have my commandments and keep them
are those who love me;
and those who love me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ 

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 

But the Advocate, the One who is called alongside to help, the Advocate, the Defender, the Intercessor, the one who gives protection, help and security, the helper, the comforter, the counsellor,

the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything,
and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Then comes the most wonderful promise of all.

Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
This is a wonderful message for us.

At the heart of our Christian faith is the love we are to share with each other. The simplest of things .. and the most difficult of things.

But we have a strength from beyond ourselves to draw on, to keep us going: one who is called alongside to help, on who gives protection, help and security – the very Spirit of God.

Reading: John 14:15-27

 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Praise and worship – Hy-Spirit

Spirit-filled Church

Let’s think of the Spirit of God as the driving force within us – the energy that keeps us going – the power within.

The Royal Institution Christmas lectures – all about energy – Supercharged, Fuelling the Future.

The 80th anniversary – lots of former lecturers. Saiful Islam, a Chemist.

Generating energy to keep the lecture theatre going. Energy measured in the number of double a batteries needed. Great fun. Lots of drum rolls from the audience. All whizz bang crash as you would expect from a chemistry lecturer.

All about the way the body needs energy to keep going. Plants grow thanks to the energy from the sun – and then that energy is stored in the plants and in the food we eat. We need to eat food – and then we store that energy – which we can then use.

Living the Christian life takes energy – we have an energy source – in the Holy Spirit – from God himself.

But just as the body needs to take in energy.

We need to take in energy from God. Draw in that energy from the Holy Spirit.

In the opening couple of months of the year we are looking at what it takes to be church. Christ centred, Bible based – today we are reflecting on the way in church we are called to be Spirit-filled.

We consatnatly need to be taking in, filling up with the energy we need for living our lives. Imagine the person who gets a new car … they fill it up with fuel. And it’s done.

That’s not how it works.

You need constantly to keep filling the car up with fuel.

So too with our Christian lives – we need to be constantly filling up with the Energy, the power source, the strength we need – in the Holy Spirit.

Pray for that strength we need.

We do that individually: we do that together as a church family too. It is as we together take in that energy and power that we need that we have the power and the energy we need.

The Holy  Spirit gives us the range of gifts we need as a church family to be body of Christ and it is that energy source that bears the fruit that is the Christian life.

Reading: Galatians 5:22-26

the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control.

There is no law against such things.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus
have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited,
competing against one another, envying one another.

the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control.





233 Filled with the Spirit’s power
Prayers of Concern
S 23 and 24 Spirit of the living God
The Lord’s Supper
237 O breath of life

Words of Blessing

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light